Amos and I have been spending our weekends exploring our local canyons. At his age, he can't really hike or keep up on long outing - he's too big to ride in our baby backpack and too small to hike long distances - so we usually spend an hour or so playing in a local stream then drive around exploring the area. The plan is to get to know our local canyons so when he's old enough, I'll have a full array of outdoor activities all mapped out. Regardless of how innocent these exploration trips start out, they usually escalate into full blown adventures.
Earlier this week my Dad and I took Amos into Payson Canyon to the Grotto Trail. It was a simple hike of about a half mile, crossing over a small stream on log bridges, leading to an impressive waterfall. We spent several hours playing in the stream, throwing rocks and playing in the mud.
This small trip was enough to spark my interest in Payson Canyon and explore it further. Yesterday, Amos and I headed for the hills leaving Laura and Maggie at home. Our goal was to drive from Payson to Nephi via the Nebo Loop Road (about 35 miles of winding mountain road). Along the way we made several stops, exploring and mapping out future adventures. Our first stop was at Maple Lake. It's a mountain lake, with campsites and small trail wrapping around the lake. I brought a fishing pool, so Amos and I spent several hours walking around the lake, taking breaks to fish and throw rocks.
From Maple Lake we headed further into the canyon until we came to Pete Winward reservoir. The small dirt road leading to the reservoir is guarded by several signs warning that trucks and cars were not recommended, only off road vehicles. Though our Suburban is as far from an off road vehicle, I couldn't turn down a good adventure. As most government signs are a bit overblown, this too was one of those cases. The road was a bit bumpy but we were rewarded with a visit to a remote mountain lake. On the way home we had to pass several horse back riders (who apparently listened to the warning signs about vehicles). I stopped and gave them time to get their horses off the road and waited for them to signal me pass. As I crept pass them, one of the horses spooked and rammed into our car. Amos seemed to like it, he pointed to the "dog" and yelled "woof, woof" while laughing.
We continued on the main road, making very few stops. I saw some good trails but we were tired and I was regretting my decision to follow the road all the way to Nephi. We buzzed past Payson Lakes, Devils Kitchen and countless other interesting points of interest.
In the end, we emerged from the mountains in Nephi (about 30 miles south of Springville), we merged onto I-15 and raced back home. Chances are Amos will never remember these trips but hopefully he'll gain an appreciation for the outdoors and a interest in leaving the main trail to see what others normally don't see. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were exploring the wilderness with my family, I hope I can pass that on to my children.